Feature

Health scare of the week: Breast cancer in young women

The rate at which advanced breast cancer strikes young women between the ages of 25 and 39 has doubled over the past 30 years.

The rate at which advanced breast cancer strikes young women between the ages of 25 and 39 has doubled over the past 30 years, Reuters.com reports. Cases of metastatic breast cancer—the kind that has spread to the bones, brain, lungs, and other organs—has risen 2 percent per year, every year, since 1976 among women under 40, a new study shows. Breast cancer is still uncommon in young women, but when they do develop the disease, they are 40 percent more likely to die from it than older women. Researchers aren’t sure what has caused the rate of the disease to surge in women under 40, but “since this change has been so marked over just a couple of decades,” it is likely “something external, a modifiable lifestyle-related risk factor or perhaps an environmental toxic exposure,’’ says Rebecca H. Johnson, an oncologist at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Changes in diet, obesity, and a later average childbearing age have all been floated as possible reasons for the climbing rate.

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